Paisley Patterns [Radio Scotland]



Billy Kay talks to buddies who celebrate the history and culture of Paisley.

As Paisley bids to be UK City of Culture 2021, Billy Kay talks to proud Paisley buddies like singer/songwriter Carol Laula and broadcaster Ken Macdonald to celebrate the vibrant history of their home town which took the iconic Paisley Pattern round the world. The weaving of fine cloth in the late 18th century led to Paisley having European renown for fashionable silks and muslins. A vibrant culture developed among the weavers too with clubs, societies and radical politics playing a crucial part in local identity. Paisley weavers were known too for their love of poetry and they left us vivid word pictures of life there. This is from Duncan McFarlane McNeil:

The click o the shuttle an whirr o the wheel
The tramp o the treadles an swish o the deil
The shout tae draw't up or the notes o a sang
Were heard a' roun as ye steppit alang --
When I was a drawboy.

Alexander Wilson, who became the pioneer of American ornithology, was typical of the intellectual energy of the place. His statue stands outside the ancient Abbey along with Paisley's other famous poet and songwriter, Robert Tannahill. We will hear one of Tannahill's beautiful Scots songs, The Braes of Gleniffer, and recall that many thousands of buddies used to gather there to sing their bard's songs. In the Abbey Billy talks to the Reverend Alan Birss about its foundation by the French Cluniac Order back in 1163 and hears how important it was in the early years of the Scottish nation. We also hear about the global dominance of the Paisley thread industry and the crisis caused by de-industrialisation. We discover how the creativity of the 2021 Bid seeks to re-energise the community and make local folk proud once again to be Paisley buddies.